Bruce was buckling Angel into her car seat when his cell phone rang.
“Sorry to bother you sir, but Christopher didn’t return from school at the appointed time.”
“Did you call him?”
“Yes sir. He’s hanging with his ‘buds’ and informed me he would be home when he got here.”
Bruce sighed. “Do you have a location?”
“Yes sir. His GPS has him on the corner of Prospect and Murray.”
“I’ll gather him and we will be along. Is everyone else home?”
“Good. I’ll see you at home.”
“You were pretty rude to your butler Chris. Won’t that make ‘daddy’ mad?”
Chris cringed. He hadn’t meant to be rude but his friends had heard Alfred order him home like a little boy. Out of embarrassment, he had snapped at Alfred. He knew Bruce was going to be angry when he found out but there was no way out of it now.
“They’ll get over it.”
“Chris, dude, you are so dead.” Robert said.
Robert pointed to a black town car pulling up to the curb. The window went down and Bruce looked directly at Chris. “Get in.” Bruce ordered calmly.
“Daaad.” Chris hissed.
Chris jumped. As he got into the car, he called out to his friends, “See you later guys.”
His friends waved and laughed as the window went back up.
“Dad. That was embarrassing. Thanks a lot.” Chris sneered.
“I suggest you pull back the attitude young man. It would have been worse if I had gotten out of the car to retrieve you.”
“Sorry, but…” Chris started.
“Stop! We will discuss your behavior at home.” Bruce motioned toward the backseat.
“Cwis!” Angel called with a smile.
“Hey baby girl. How was daycare?” Chris smiled at his baby sister. The ride home was quiet except for Angel chatting about ‘school’.
Bruce parked the car and turned to Chris. “Meet me in the den in 15 minutes.”
“Can I go apologize to Alfred first?”
Bruce smiled. “I think that would be a good idea son. Then go find a corner.”
“Daaad.” Chris whined.
Bruce ignored the whining and got out of the car and unbuckled Angel. “15 minutes Chris.” Bruce took Angel inside and changed her diaper. Once she was settled into the playroom with her brothers, Bruce headed toward the den.
Bruce was aware that Chris came inside and spoke to Alfred, then went quietly into the den.
“Why didn’t Chris come say ‘hi’?”
Bruce smiled and picked his young son up and hugged him. “Don’t worry son. He’ll be better when he comes back.” Bruce set him down and ruffled his hair. “Go play.”
“Okay.” Vin ran off and Bruce headed into the kitchen. “Alfred?”
“Did Chris speak to you?”
“He came and apologized Master Bruce.”
“Good. Angel is clean and dry in the playroom with everyone else.”
“I’m on my way with snacks now.”
Bruce headed toward the den and found Chris standing in a corner doing exactly what was asked of him. “Son. Please come sit down and tell me why you didn’t come home and felt it was okay to be rude to Alfred.”
“Robert and the guys wanted to go hang out and when I started to say no, they made fun of me and I thought since it was Friday, maybe no one would notice. I was about to head home when Alfred called and I let them tease me into being rude. I felt bad.”
“Son, what could you have done differently?”
“Huh?” Chris was expecting a lecture not questions.
“It’s Friday. What other options did you have?”
“I should have called.”
“Yes you should have.”
“Would have Alfred let me stay?”
“Probably. Or he would have had you call me. I would have preferred you ask first. You are the son of Bruce Wayne and it gives me peace of mind to know where you are. It’s not a control issue but a security issue. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yes sir. I really am sorry. I let my friends pressure me.” Chris put his head in his hands.
“Since I never said you couldn’t hang out with your friends, I’m saying it now.”
“Because you were rude and disrespectful, you’re grounded until Thanksgiving. I don’t want a repeat of this or I’ll be very upset.”
“Good. Do you have any homework?”
“Then go do your chores please.”
“Yes sir. Thanks dad.”
“You’re forgiven son. Try not to let your peers dictate your actions.”
“Good.” Bruce was about to remind Chris of dinner when an unearthly scream was heard from the playroom.
“JD or Angel?” Chris smirked.
“I’m going to kill them all.” Bruce headed to the playroom and found JD crying as he held his finger in his mouth. Angel was crying too.
“JD? What’s wrong son?”
“Dad. Angel bit me.” He showed Bruce his finger. It had small teeth marks on it.
“What happened?” Bruce asked as he inspected the finger.
“I was playing with the trucks and Angel wanted one so I gave he one. But she wanted my remote one that’s put away. When I told her no she bit me.”
“Angel? Did you bit JD? Angel nodded. “Why Angel?” Angel completely ignored Bruce.
“JD, go have Alfred look at your finger. Angel and I are going to have a little talk.” Bruce picked Angel up and she began to scream.
“No ‘pank me papa.”
Bruce carried Angel into the nursery off his office and sat Angel down on the changing table. “Angel. What has Papa told you about biting?”
Angel shook her head and cried. Bruce sighed. “Okay Angel.” Bruce carried Angel over to a chair in the den and sat down with her in his lap. “No biting Angel. It’s naughty.”
Bruce said as he swatted her twice on her diaper-clad bottom. He knew she barely felt the swats but she cried harder. Bruce carried Angel to the rocker and rocked her until she calmed down. Bruce noticed she was sucking her thumb and rubbing a fake worm along her cheek.
Bruce never understood where or why she picked up a rubber, fishing worm as a security item, but she usually kept it in her pocket. “Baby? Isn’t it time to get rid of ‘woobie’?”
Angel only shook her head and never removed her thumb or her ‘woobie’. Bruce gave up and continued to rock her. When Angel started to fidget, Bruce carried Angel back to the playroom. “Angel. You need to tell JD you’re sorry for biting him.”
“No more biting Angel or Papa will spank you again.”
“Sowwy Papa.” Angel kissed Bruce’s cheek.
Bruce kissed her back. “I love you Angel.” He set her down and sent her to play. “I want you kids to play until dinner.”
The following day at Wayne Enterprises, Bruce walked into the daycare center and took Angel out for a walk in the park across from the office. While they were playing catch, a strange man approached them and attacked Bruce. Bruce yelled for Angel to run back to WE. When the attacker couldn’t lay his hands on Bruce, he tried to grab Angel. Bruce attacked the man and ‘Batman’ took him down, allowing Angel to escape.
Angel ran as fast as her two-year old legs would take her. She banged on the large glass doors to the reception area. When the security guard opened the door, the hysterical toddler tried to speak and tell them about the attack. The guard caught enough to pass the crying child to the receptionist and radio for backup to help his boss.
Bruce and Nightwing gave an abridged version of what happened to the police. When finished, Nightwing promised he would ‘stop by’ and check on Angel. Bruce rushed into the building and asked the receptionist where his daughter was.
“Lucius took her to your office.” She responded.
Bruce rushed to his office and found his daughter sobbing with her ‘woobie’ while Lucius tried to calm her down.
“Hey Angel? Look who just got here?” Lucius asked.
Angel turned at the same time Bruce approached with his arms open.
“Hey baby. Come to Papa.”
Angel jumped into Bruce’s arms and sobbed on his shoulder as he held her close. “Shh baby. Papa has you.” Angel started to calm down as Bruce rocked her and snuggled her close. “Let’s go home baby.” As they walked out of the office, Bruce stopped to thank Lucius. When he needed to sign some paperwork, he set Angel down for a second. She latched onto his leg and fiddled with her ‘woobie’.
“Baby. Put that nasty worm away or give it to me.”
“No Papa.” Angel cried. Bruce gave her a stern look and Angel put ‘woobie’ in her pocket.
“I don’t want to see ‘woobie’ in public Angel. Okay?”
“Good girl.” Bruce picked Angel up and she cried softly with her thumb in her mouth. As Bruce shuffled Angel to a comfortable position, Angel got ‘woobie’ back out and faced away from Bruce. Lucius approached and noticed the worm.
“What’s with the bait Bruce? Can’t afford a teddy bear?”
“What?” Bruce looked at Angel and scowled. “Angel? Give me ‘woobie’.” Bruce held out his hand.
Angel held the fake worm close and shook her head. Bruce gently took the toy and Angel had a meltdown. “That’s my cue Lucius. Time to get home and get Angel down for a nap.”
Angel was still crying and asking for ‘woobie’ when they entered the mansion. Alfred met them at the door.
“I saw the news Master Bruce. Are you both alright?”
“Nightwing helped, even though I didn’t need it. Angel ran for help, she’s still a little upset.”
“All over this scare?”
“This latest meltdown is because of this.” Bruce pulled the worm out of his pocket. “Where did she get this nasty thing?”
“I don’t know, but if it will calm her down why not let her have it.” Alfred suggested.
“No. She’ll get over it. I’m going to put her down for a nap.” Bruce headed up the staircase. “Oh, Dick will be home for supper.”
Later that evening…
Dick entered the mansion as Bruce came down the staircase carrying a crying Angel. “Hey dad. I see Angel’s still upset.”
“She just woke up. She’s also mad at me because I took away some nasty rubber worm she’s been sucking on.”
“Sounds like one of my bait worms. Just give her a stuffie.”
“I tried that Richard. She didn’t want any of the ones she has.”
“Let me try. Maybe she likes the worm because it was mine.”
“It’s worth a try.” Bruce gently bounced Angel. “Hey baby. Dick’s here. You want to give his a hello hug?”
Angel lifted her head and smiled at her brother. She let Dick take from Bruce and hugged him. “Hey Sis, why the long face?”
“Papa tooked ‘woobie’.”
“How about I get you a new ‘woobie’?”
“Because I want you to have a ‘woobie’ that papa will like and isn’t icky.” Dick made a funny face and Angel laughed.
“Why don’t you go play and I’ll go see what I can find.”
“Dinner is in an hour Richard.” Bruce warned.
“I’ll be back in 30 minutes, promise.”
“Fine, but don’t be late.” Bruce took Angel from Dick and took her to the playroom as Dick went shopping.
Dick returned to the mansion less than 30 minutes later. When he entered the ded, Angel was screaming as Bruce was rocking her.
“Hey. What happened?”
“She’s been like this since you left.”
“Angel? I have a surprise for you? You wanna see?”
Angel nodded but didn’t move from her spot on Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce sat on the couch and turned Angel around. She whimpered until she was settled in Bruce’s lap facing Dick.
Dick handed Angel an ultra soft pink worm. “I found this
‘woobie’ who needs a home. Would you like the job of taking care of it?”
Angel hugged Dick and snuggled back into Bruce’s arms.
“I don’t remember being so clingy when I was little.” Dick said.
“Dick, you were 10 when your parents died and you had your moments. Besides she’s younger and a girl. Her emotions are closer to the surface.”
“Let’s go eat. Would you please go round up your brothers?”
Bruce checked Angel’s diaper and then headed for dinner. Another crisis averted.